The Electric Six’s favorite video costumes
Dick Valentine reflects on his band’s outlandish onscreen wardrobe
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When Electric Six frontman Dick Valentine strapped on a light-up codpiece for his band’s debut video, “Danger! High Voltage!”, he set the expectations for his wardrobe department impossibly high. Remarkably, the act’s videos have only managed to up the ante, featuring a parade of S&M-loving Abraham Lincolns, Roman centurions sporting Vanilla Ice haircuts, and clubbing douchebags in videos that celebrate the act’s over-the-top dance-rock tunes. In preparation for his band’s show Wednesday, Oct. 26 at Johnny Brenda's, Valentine spoke with The A.V. Club about his favorite wardrobe moments from his band’s many videos.
Latin American Dictator from “Dance Commander”
Dick Valentine: I’ve always been a fan of Latin American dictators. I like the megalomania that goes with it. It’s a regional, localized type of power, I guess is the best way to put it. They act like they’re in charge of the universe, but they usually have a shelf life of five to seven years before they get assassinated by their own people. There’s that window there where, if you’re a Latin American dictator, you think that you’re the center of the universe. You’re not.
A.V. Club: That seems to have some direct parallels with the world of rock ’n’ roll.
DV: Look who you’re talking to.
Freddy Mercury from “Radio Gaga”
DV: I think what I like about that was that the first thing [that I did when I got off the plane for the video shoot] was to go in to get a mold of my teeth done, so I could have the big overbite like Freddy Mercury. You fly into Toronto, and they whisk you away to a prosthetics lab and pour hot gelatin down your throat. You’re there for 45 minutes while they get an actual mold of your teeth. I felt as if I was working with professionals at that point. That’s what they do in movies. A lot of times, they coat you with a hot liquid that forms around your teeth or skull, and they make replicas based on that that are used on television.
AVC: Do directors you work with come in knowing about your video history and wanting to do something a little weirder than the average video?
DV: I think that’s the idea. When we first did the “Danger! High Voltage!” video, we established that we’re not going to do performance videos. When we did our video for “Bodyshots,” I don’t think the director knew anything about our music. He had just seen our videos and said, “I want to work with those guys because they’ll do anything.”
Detroit Sunbather in “Formula 409”
DV: When I’m sunbathing, I’ve got actual slacks on, like bottom slacks of a suit. I’m bathing on Belle Isle and you can see the Detroit skyline behind me. There are disease-carrying birds in the background. If you’re going to sunbathe in Detroit, I really think that captures how it goes.
AVC: Is there a lot of sunbathing going on in Detroit?
DV: I’m the first one. When we shot that video, I was sort of a pioneer. I was the Chuck Yeager of Detroit sunbathing. If you saw The Right Stuff, Chuck Yeager never got to be an astronaut. I have a lot of similarities to Chuck Yeager. I’m a pioneer, but I’m not going to get the credit. Kid Rock is.
AVC: What’s it like seeing people come to shows dressed up in costumes from your old videos? Is it weird? Cool?
DV: It’s neither weird nor cool. I feel sorry for them.